A rough life ended up becoming one couple’s key to growing into their community’s leaders and agents of change.
Dennis grew up in Olongapo City, in the Philippines, and took up selling vegetables and fruits for a living at the marketplaces.
He met his wife, Beng, who was also a produce vendor there, and they were soon married and starting a family. During the early years of their marriage, they settled in Manila. Life for both of them had always involved some degree of hardships and struggle, but Dennis and Beng believed in persistence and hard work.
They lived modestly but managed to provide well for themselves and their four children.
Two more children were soon on the way, but Beng quickly noticed that their youngest sons were not thriving like the other children. Both became sick frequently, and she worried constantly.
Surviving Repeated Hardship
Trying to make their way in Manila was becoming tougher with six children and two who had constant medical bills.
Dennis and Beng decided to transfer to Quezon City, just outside of Manila, where the cost of living would be cheaper and they might have more job opportunities. They settled in the Amaca area. It wasn’t the nicest neighborhood—no electricity even—but they were determined to make it home.
They enrolled the children in a daycare managed by a local church’s ministry. Things were better for a while, and both Dennis and Beng ended up accepting Christ into their lives through their relationships with the daycare workers.
However, foreign financial support for the daycare came to a halt, and the ministry was forced to close down.
The loss of the daycare ministry and the recurring health problems of their youngest boys put some serious pressure on the family. By the grace of God, Dennis was able to find a full-time job as a driver for a promotions company, but the reasons for why the community had lost the daycare stuck in the back of his mind.
A lot of families had depended on that ministry, and its collapse had left a serious gap. If there had been some way for the locals to support it, if they had even been told earlier, perhaps something could have been done to save the daycare.
In 2016, World Challenge partners came into contact with Dennis, and he brought up the situation with the ministry.
This discussion quickly led to some of the issues caused by poverty in Amaca, including its spiritual challenges. Dennis and Beng and the team began discussing a vision for a safer, growing Amaca.
Becoming Agents of Change
Dennis and Beng proved instrumental in mobilizing the community. While she set up meetings between the team and community, he would help transport people from their homes to the church.
Dennis’s employer, after seeing his church involvement, agreed to let him use the company van for free during Sundays since it was helping the community.
Backed by Dennis and Beng’s wholehearted support, this grassroots ministry began to flourish. Soon, 40 mothers in the neighborhood were attending a weekly adult Bible fellowship, and 35 of their children had their own Bible study on Thursday nights.
The community began to pitch together to make community improvements in addition to starting new church meetings. They brought electricity to the Amaca area and began to see practical improvements to people’s living situations along with increased interest in God and the Bible.